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DPP to Start a CZK 86bn Tender For Driverless Trains For Metro C and D

Translated by Milo Dvorak

29. 1. 2024

Business Newsletter #3

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Here is your next Business Newsletter.

Prague represents roughly 25% of the nation's GDP. A number so substantial it attracts a lot of media attention. One of the recent most major investments is arguably the construction of metro line D along with the planned line C automation.

Happy reading!

Published by E15 on 28 January 2024.

The Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) will be announcing a CZK 86 billion contract to automate line C and purchase trains for lines C and D. The

announcement of the contract was approved by the representatives of the city.

The tender includes the purchase of 52 automatic train sets for line C, 16 sets for the upcoming line D, and necessary station modifications with a total value of 35.9 billion Czech crowns. The remaining value of the contract consists of operational costs for maintenance over a period of 35 years.

The delivery of all trains is expected to take place after 2029. According to the General Director of DPP, Petr Witowski, the supplier is expected to be selected by the end of 2025.

According to Deputy Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates), it is essential to announce the contract as soon as possible, as it will be necessary to manufacture and homologate the vehicles for line D before its operation begins. The DPP will address the contract through a so-called competitive dialogue, involving multiple competitors in the selection process.

"It is essential to combine the automation of metro lines C and D for several reasons. According to preliminary consultations, manufacturers would reject us if we were to buy only ten train sets for metro D. We would either not get a reasonable price or an offer at all. That's why we are purchasing 16 sets for the complete line D and combining it with 53 train sets for line C," said Deputy Mayor for Transportation Hřib.

Another reason for connecting both lines is that the D line will use a depot on line C until the Písnice Depot is constructed in the final phase. "Meaning the systems must be compatible," said Hřib. In the initial phase between Pankrác and Nové Dvory, ten trains will operate on line D, and after completion, their number will increase to 16.

Witowski stated on Monday that after signing the contract, preparatory work and the development of the vehicles would follow in the years 2026 and 2027. The first vehicles are expected to be manufactured in the years 2027 and 2028, followed by their certification and homologation, with test operation scheduled for 2028-2029.

According to DPP manager Jiří Hrnčíř, the modernisation on line C will allow reducing the current interval from 115 to 90 seconds. A shorter interval will enable the transportation of more passengers. According to Hřib and Hrnčíř, the capacity of line C is already at its limit. "Funding the current system is more expensive than having automatic operation in the future," noted Hrnčíř.

Some opposition representatives criticised the project. Ondřej Prokop (ANO) says that Prague should prioritise completing the inner city ring road and that Prague residents won't notice whether they are using automated or manually operated metro. "Allocating 86 billion for metro automation is pure non-sense," he said. His party colleague Stanislav Nekolný (ANO) questioned the need to shorten intervals.

Neither Hřib nor city councilor and chairman of the transport committee Martin Sedeke (ODS) agreed with the criticism. "People will notice shorter intervals. Automating line C is not gonna be done for the thrill of it," pointed out Hřib.

Sedeke stated that the problem was that some representatives had not properly read the presented document and got the impression that it was only about metro automation. According to him, there are several aspects in the tender that DPP and the city would have to do in the future anyway.

The construction of the new Prague metro line D began in 2022, with a one-kilometre section between Pankrác and Olbrachtova currently being constructed. The Olbrachtova - Nové Dvory section, currently being looked into by the antimonopoly office, is expected to be next. The last section to be built will be from Nové Dvory to the Písnice Depot. The original completion estimate was 2029, but due to disputes around the current tender, it is likely to be delayed.

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